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Arts and Entertainment

Will He Be Cool Tonight or Out of Sight?

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Elmore Leonard is 81. He has written 41 novels (yes, that's right, 41) including The Bounty Hunters, Forty Lashes Less One, Gold Coast, Rum Punch, Cuba Libre, Mr. Paradise & The Hot Kid. His novels and short stories have been made into dozens of films including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Be Cool, Jackie Brown and the forthcoming Killshot, 3:10 to Yuma and Freaky Deaky. The man, it is safe to say, has been busy. It's also safe to say that he's a legend.

He writes fast and loose, but the dialogue is always slick and cool. Perfectly cutting, perfectly timed, perfectly perfect. Leonard's uber-gritty brand of crime is especially notable because his strong female characters frequently get the upper hand and it's never just about their feminine wiles. More often, Leonard's leading (and not so leading) ladies get the best lines, the smartest dialogue, the best revenge (except for Bridget Fonda in Jackie Brown...) when it all goes up in smoke. In flames. In a hail of bullets.

The weird bit, though, is that so few people know the name Elmore Leonard. When you say his name and that he'll be in town tonight (which he will be: 7pm @ Book Soup), people stare at you. Don't return emails. Don't know who you're talking about. They know his films - they can even quote whole scenes of dialogue from them - but they don't know who wrote the words they love. That's a shame, a sad, sad shame.

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Leonard is as funny in person as his dialogue is smooth and you've got two chances to see him talk about his new book, Up in Honey's Room. He'll be at Book Soup tonight @ 7pm and he'll be at Writer's Bloc (reservations required) tomorrow night at 7:30pm talking with producer Walter Mirisch of West Side Story fame. You now know who he is. You have no excuses. Go right your wrongs and see the man speak the words you've spoken a dozen times without knowing they were his.

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